Is Ed Wedbush the cheapest man alive?

That's what some of his employees would say - as would his neighbors. The 78-year-old owner of downtown-based investment firm Wedbush Inc. gets a not-so-flattering profile in the LAT that reveals, among other things, how he hasn't fixed the roof on his Ladera Heights home for years (he'll occasionally climb onto the roof in his bathrobe and slippers to rearrange the tarps), and drives a 1992 Town Car, and brings lunch from home every day, and refuses to issue company credit cards to his employees. Oh, and his personal stake in the firm is worth more than $150 million.

Wedbush believes his vigilance is one of the reasons his privately held firm survived the global financial crisis while bigger-name rivals such as Bear Stearns & Co. and Lehman Bros. collapsed. While others borrowed heavily to make risky investment bets, Wedbush Inc. stuck to its brokerage and investment banking businesses. The company is debt-free -- almost unheard of in an industry notorious for its swashbuckling ways -- and Wedbush says it turned a record profit in 2009.


No expense is too small to track. The company saved about $500 a month by eliminating a monthly pizza lunch for employees during the depths of the financial crisis in late 2008 -- even though the company was doing well. Wedbush said the pizza was axed as a symbolic gesture and has since has been restored. During the year-end holiday party season, Wedbush tells managers he will "pay for the meat" but nothing else, according to current and former employees.

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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
Mark Lacter, business writer and editor was 59
The multi-talented Mark Lacter
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